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A letter to my family about Christmas, updated post 40 - Page 2

post #21 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeldasMom View Post
With my family I am taking the approach of initiating a conversation among all of us. I have talked to my sister and I just sent this note to my stepmother:

On the topic of Christmas, we have wondered about whether we should do something to make Christmas gift giving more downscaled. Thoughts? One idea I had was for everyone just to bring small stocking stuffer presents for everyone. Maybe that is too radical. The other idea I had was for the sibs to all draw names. I am not sure how that would work since DP and I have kids and no one else does. Or maybe we could put a price limit on presents or say they have to be hand made. Don't know if people have the time for that though. Or maybe people could make Christmas lists of small items they would like. I liked (my sister)'s amazon list last year. Maybe I should send an e-mail out to everyone and see what they say.

I love buying/giving Christmas presents, but at the same time I am wondering if there could be a way to simplify.


Okay, ZM here again. I already got a response back from the above e-mail and it was positively received. OP, my situation is different in that we are close with our extended families, but I wonder if initiating a conversation and getting their ideas would be a way to build your relationship with them?
It's kind of funny, because what prompted this whole note in the first place was my mom sending an e-mail asking if we wanted to do a name exchange this year, which we have done in the past. The problem with the exchanges, and the gift giving in general, is that none of us know eachother, none of us live by eachother, and so it's a gift plus shipping across the country that you have no idea if the person will like or not. It makes as much sense as exchanging $20 bills. We have gotten so much useless junk in these exchanges...... And then still everyone usually proceeds to get everyone something anyway, which totally makes the exchange pointless. Last year we did this with Dh's family, and so we bought our name gifts and everyone came to our place to celebrate Christmas. Well, we ended up feeling like crap, because everyone got us something and we only got stuff for our name people. It was embarassing and infuriating. Like we are the cheap ones, when our understanding was we were just doing a name exchange. Ugh..
post #22 of 50
As an aside to the last post, I try to have little things handy- a nice loaf of bread, a cake, some cookies, some potporri, etc. as a "last minute gift" if someone gets us something and we hadn't prepared. The worst that happens is that we eat it!
post #23 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexsam View Post
Yeah, the fact that toddlers don't share is an unquestionable fact! I don't disagree with you on that one bit, and I have a 2 year old that will prove my point . I know where your coming from, and I bet so does anyone who has children- including your relatives.

What I am saying is that your words can create different images. The way that you phrased it and the ideas you've chosen to focus on are just plain "not complimentary" to the children, no matter the truth of it all. Even if you said soemthing like "Like most toddlers, Gracie is learning the fine art of sharing, so we'd like to encourage that by giving gifts addressed to both children." it wouldn't sound so negative. I'm not suggesting to lie, but maybe not mention it or focus on something else. Or if you feel that this is your absolute only issue that will turn the tides, to use more positive ways of discussing their behaviors.

OK, I like the way you worded that sentence. That makes sense to me! Thanks!
post #24 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexsam View Post
As an aside to the last post, I try to have little things handy- a nice loaf of bread, a cake, some cookies, some potporri, etc. as a "last minute gift" if someone gets us something and we hadn't prepared. The worst that happens is that we eat it!

Yeah, I might have thought more clearly last year if I hadn't been bursting with child!
post #25 of 50
Been there. Done that.

We just often get Christmas presents from people that we hadn't expected. We're Jewish, so we tend to assume that people who know us and know that wouldn't give us a Christmas present. But, inevitably, someone does! The thought is nice, but we are often caught off guard. Now I have my cookies all packaged up with a pretty tin and a bow and say "Oh, that's so nice of you to think of us. Here are some cookies I baked. I hope you like them!" :
post #26 of 50
I am in the middle of writing a similar letter. We are making a room for the big boys and want Christmas to be about getting the room all set up.

Good luck!!
post #27 of 50
Thread Starter 
Wow, you are really good!! (This is to Alexsam, the other post snuck in there!)
post #28 of 50
Believe me, I understand what prompts you to send this email. And I do think it's pretty good, although I think you could make it shorter, and definitely separate it into paragraphs.

What's really missing, as I read this, is an acknowledgement of your family's generosity in the past. I think you need to stress that you are so appreciative of the time and effort they have taken in years past to select gifts for your kids, and that you are counting on that same generosity of spirit in them to understand why you'd like to scale back this year.

More phrases like, "It would mean a lot to us if..." etc.

Also, as pp have suggested, lose the part about cluttering up your house. It's offensive to suggest that you regard your relatives chosen gifts as clutter.

I like the suggestion to contribute to college funds, but you need to phrase this in a more polite way. Don't tell them they can "just stick it in an account." That would get my back up!
post #29 of 50
I'm sorry, but I have no suggestions. I just wanted to say that I'm sorry you're in such a situation. I can't quite imagine it, as my family do only buy one gift for each child. Well, my mom gives them each two, but that means one outfit, and one toy, so I don't object!

I hope this all works out for you.
post #30 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
What's really missing, as I read this, is an acknowledgement of your family's generosity in the past. I think you need to stress that you are so appreciative of the time and effort they have taken in years past to select gifts for your kids, and that you are counting on that same generosity of spirit in them to understand why you'd like to scale back this year.
I know what you mean. But it's not generosity. It never has been. It's guilt that buys all the crap. They don't spend a lick of time with us, or even really attempt to. And they buy inappropriate gifts. Like last year, Gracie was 19 months old, and my mom got her a cork board with push pins, and a package of pencils. We opened it and we were like "Seriously?? For a one year old??" I guess it's good the gifts come in the mail, then we can at least react without offending.
post #31 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by coloradoalice View Post
And they buy inappropriate gifts. Like last year, Gracie was 19 months old, and my mom got her a cork board with push pins, and a package of pencils.
Wow. That is weird. Could you make an amazon wish list and put a bunch of kids books on it? Or would this be a faux pas in your family?
post #32 of 50
I like alexsam's letter. : I totally understand and agree with your motivation, however. Oy vey. I gotta tell you, one blessing of having a special needs, majorly sensory defensive child is that people are scared to buy him ANYTHING without asking us first, because they never know what will totally freak him out or what he'll love. So yeah, I guess in a way I exploit my son's special need to my advantage in the crap-minimization arena.
post #33 of 50
You know, as a last resort, you could always just donate the toys and gifts to kids who could really use them... if they really do just come in the mail, no one is the wiser... I would this this as a last resort, however.
post #34 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexsam View Post
You know, as a last resort, you could always just donate the toys and gifts to kids who could really use them... if they really do just come in the mail, no one is the wiser... I would this this as a last resort, however.
Ah, yep, BTDT!!
post #35 of 50
I say you all are on the right track. Have you ever read this book?

http://www.zerowaste.ca/articles/column121.html
post #36 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by coloradoalice View Post
I know what you mean. But it's not generosity. It never has been. It's guilt that buys all the crap. They don't spend a lick of time with us, or even really attempt to. And they buy inappropriate gifts.
That may well be. But even if they are aware they're sending gifts out of guilt, and even if they do know they're inappropriate - still, they are sending gifts.

All I'm saying is, in this type of situation, where you think they may not respond positively, you catch more flies with honey. And I'm sure they would appreciate having their past gifts acknowledged. It can't hurt. I just think your letter is a tad on the confrontational side, and needs to be softened up a bit.
post #37 of 50
I like the spirit behind the letter, but my only issue with it is that you seem to be blaming your DD for it. (Not in the stereotypical sense, but in the 'white lie' sense, using her very natural toddler state as the 'reason'). That's not really fair to her. Since it's you and your DH that don't want the extra gifts, I think that you should put the 'blame' squarely on your shoulders.

I'd just cut out the explanation about Gracie, and say that due to space and for everyone's enjoyment we'd like the kids to get a joint gift from each person or whatever. There's something in the way the letter's written that seems to saddle your little girl with this (though I know that's not your intention). I wouldn't give people the opportunity to gossip about that or make a big deal out of it.

You don't want the extra gifts, and you're not going to keep a bunch of stuff in your house that you don't want and don't have the space for. If they need directness, then I'd take that line, and not try to soften it by redirecting it towards the kid.
post #38 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by coloradoalice View Post
I know what you mean. But it's not generosity. It never has been. It's guilt that buys all the crap. They don't spend a lick of time with us, or even really attempt to. And they buy inappropriate gifts. Like last year, Gracie was 19 months old, and my mom got her a cork board with push pins, and a package of pencils. We opened it and we were like "Seriously?? For a one year old??" I guess it's good the gifts come in the mail, then we can at least react without offending.
If this is the case, then maybe you could just not say anything and donate the gifts? If they aren't there, then the won't know if you use them, so you don't have to keep them.

If they are not doing it for you, but for themselves, then I doubt the letter will do anything but upset them anyway.
post #39 of 50
Send it as it is - I think it's fine. Family doesn't get the "no gifts" thing unless you yell in their face "stop buying stuff!"

Jenn
post #40 of 50
Thread Starter 

OK, here's my revised edition

I tried to shorten it a bit and be less accusing of poor little Gracie! I did keep it direct though, because believe me, it's what our families need!




An e-mail from my mom this morning reminded me to get off my butt and send this out! So, here goes.

James and I have decided that this Christmas we really need to take things in a very low-key direction. Mainly I am referring to the giving and accepting of gifts. We would like to really cut back on the amount we spend and on the amount that is spent on us on your behalf. The biggest issue is the kids. The last couple years have been fairly overwhelming in the gift department. Now we have the addition of another child who also has a birthday at Christmas-time. We are asking that if you choose to give the children gifts you limit it to one or two, and we ask that the gifts are addressed to both children. Like most toddlers Gracie is leaning how to share and we would like to eliminate competition by having each gift be something both kids can use. Ian will have a birthday party a few days later and we ask the same for that also, just one or two gifts please (although for his birthday they can of course be addressed just to him). Between all of the family we have, our own gifts, and Ian's birthday there will be more than enough new things in the house to keep the kids occupied. If you would like to put your gift towards educational things, like memberships to various places we can take the kids, or college savings, that is fine. If you don't want to give anything at all, that is fine too. We would much rather that you spend your money on the needs of your particular family!

Finally, we would like to ask that you also don't worry about giving gifts to James and I. Christmas is about so much more than gifts and we would much rather focus on traditions and family time than on presents. We will be sending out holiday cards, but otherwise we are not planning on exchanging gifts with anyone outside our little family of 4. The consumerism and focus of Christmas is just so overblown and overwhelming, especially for such young kids. We are going to do our best to help keep that in check.

Thanks so much for understanding. We are looking forward to having a wonderful holiday season.

Alice
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